So you all read my previous post on parental responsibility right?  Well here is the bit where our fingers get burnt…and it seems we are not alone.

My friend dropped onto the comfy sofa in our local coffee shop the other week with a heavy thud and a bubbling rage in her eyes.  My other friend and I raised our coffee cups in unison as if for protection.  I placed my cup down gently and quietly asked if she was OK.  She then spent the next 20 minutes downloading her frustrations in her broad Welsh accent at full volume.

The day before she had received her credit card bill and for some reason instead of leaving it to one side decided to open it and take a look.  It seemed higher than usual and she couldn’t think why, so she decided to quiz her husband about it when he got home from work.  This time she could be sure there were no secret shopping trips to blame.  The bulk of the unexplained goods appeared to stem from iTunes.  Neither she nor her husband could fathom it out.

On looking at their iTunes account that night they were shocked to discover over £150 had been spent on games!  Yep you got it; their 8 year old daughter had been merrily playing away and downloading coins obliviously.  Laughed? My friend and I were damn well nearly in tears at her misfortune.  When they carefully questioned her about it the poor girl hadn’t a clue.  So who was to blame she asked? Apple?  Themselves for allowing her to use their iPods or knowing their passwords?

Child Using AppleMac

As my friend re-counted the story we were in fits and I could not wait to get home and tell my husband. This was priceless.  I mean fancy not knowing your daughter was spending all that money.  That night I regurgitated the story to my husband with tears rolling down my face and he too found it amusing.  You could say we were feeling a little smug with ourselves.  Well not for long, I can tell you.

A few days later after yet another one of my son’s friends emerged from the office on a scorching hot day, I wondered what on earth was so fascinating about being stuck inside.  Apparently they had been playing games and initially whilst I was genuinely grateful for the peace and quiet and that he was not brandishing his baseball bat at his sisters terrified friends for a change, horror began to flashed through my mind, as did my friends Welsh accent.  When my husband returned home it looked like we were the mugs… £85 on games!!!

iTunes Account

A few weeks later another friend reported £130 and then only a few days ago another one at almost £500.  So no-one is laughing now!  I think we are all in agreement that we had no idea this was going on, but neither did the children.  Were we within our rights to get our money back?  Well probably not.  But there is clearly a problem here and Apple seems to be having the last laugh… or are they?

Last month in the Daily Mail it was reported that “a number of parents from California have come together under one, large class-action suit against the creator of the iPod and other gadgets.”  To read the full article click here.   They basically argue that although the apps were free, the coins or credits required to progress through the games cost real money, the games are addictive in nature and prompts for passwords are not frequent enough.  Apple requested that the case be thrown out but the judge refused and as such is still unresolved.

I do know one thing for sure though, this really does reinforce what I wrote in my last post, we parents need to take responsibility for what our children are doing online, make them aware that nothing in life is free, even if it might say it is and ask permission before downloading anything.  So I can safely say I have been there, done that and worn the T-Shirt but is this really worth taking one of the world’s biggest corporations to court? Absolutely not…. that is a serious amount of shopping and I know which I would rather spend my money on!

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